Video Reviews, August 2012

starred review starOtto Frank, Father of Anne. color & b/w. 75 min. In Dutch, English, & German w/English subtitles. David je Jongh, Living Colour Entertainment BV, dist. by MVD Entertainment Group, 800-888-0486; 2012. DVD UPC 760137530695. $199.95. Public performance. BIOg/HIST

The sole survivor of the family known worldwide through his daughter Anne’s diary, Otto Frank (1889–1980) came from a patrician German Jewish background and loyally served as an officer in the German army in World War I. As the Nazi Party took power in the 1930s, he forsook his anti-Semitic homeland and moved his young family to Holland. The wartime story is by now familiar, but this film goes into greater detail exploring Frank’s postwar life through onsite photos, historical footage, and archival and present-day interviews. He relocated to Switzerland upon marrying a fellow Holocaust survivor who supported his mission to promote Anne’s memory. Viewers will appreciate the artful and thought-provoking interviews with Frank himself, the extended Frank family, and friends. The documentary does not duck controversy (it addresses playwright Meyer Levin’s failed attempt to present a striking theatrical production of the diary, which led to acrimony and disappointment between Levin and Frank). VERDICT Following the recent publication of books detailing the wider Frank family story (e.g., Mirjam Pressler’s Treasures from the Attic: The Extraordinary Story of Anne Frank’s Family), this solid, well-paced documentary has much to offer viewers of all ages. Unfortunately, the high price will limit purchase to well-funded libraries.—Paul Kaplan, Lake Villa Dist. Lib., IL

starred review starTouch. color. 11 min. Jen McGowan, dist. by Six29 Entertainment, 2011. DVD $15. SOC SCI

At first glance, a film that is only marginally longer than a YouTube video about a chance meeting while awaiting a train hardly seems likely to provoke much thought or have the ability to surprise, and yet Touch is as powerful as many films ten times its length. In the film’s brevity, writer Colin Pink and director McGowan have pared away the extraneous to reveal the essence of human interaction. It would be easy to say this film is simple because of its length, but every component is so thoughtfully crafted that it is anything but simple. The script, the actors (Lily Knight and Rachel Kanouse), and the cinematography come together seamlessly, leaving viewers with the feeling that they are eavesdropping on a real-life event. VERDICT Sad, funny, and moving, this film should be considered for libraries of all sizes and types. It would also make a wonderful library group event, engendering a great deal of conversation.—Catherine Gilmore, MLS, Portland, OR

starred review starPower Surge. color. 60 min. Doug Hamilton, Hamilton Land & Cattle Inc. for NOVA, dist. by PBS, 800-531-4727; 2011. DVD ISBN 9781608834723. $24.99. ENVIRONMENT

This NOVA episode reminds viewers why we need to replace fossil fuels and briefly surveys cleaner energy sources (and conservation) to use instead. According to NOVA’s panel of experts, there are many choices based on current technology. Princeton professor Stephen Pacala’s “carbon wedges” concept encourages avoidance of greenhouse gas emissions by diverse means. However, rapidly shifting our energy sources is difficult. The cost of fossil fuels needs to rise to reflect their environmental damage. Some alternatives are shown, including carbon sequestration, solar electric power, biodiesel fuel brewed from switchgrass, building renovation for energy efficiency, modular nuclear reactors, and the reuse of spent nuclear fuel. VERDICT A lively and hopeful view of how we might create a sustainable yet prosperous civilization. [Read more about environmental DVDs in “Viewing the Environment,” p. 38.]—David R. Conn, formerly with Surrey Libs., BC

The following titles are reviewed in the August print issue. Visit Book Verdict for the full reviews.


Beautiful Wave. color. 96+ min. David Mueller, Anchor Bay Entertainment,; 2012. DVD UPC 013132467092. $19.98;
Blu-ray UPC 013132517391. $24.99. F

The Yankles. color. 115+ min. David R. Brooks, DZB Prods. & Magnolia Pictures, 2012. DVD UPC 876964004596. $26.98; Blu-ray UPC 876964004602. $29.98. Rated: PG-13.


Lots and Lots of Big Trains. Vol. 1: Giant Railroad Action! 60 min. DVD ISBN 9781936134267.

Lots and Lots of Toy Trains. Vol. 2: Model Railroads in Action! 120+ min. DVD ISBN 9781936134076. ea. vol: Marshall Publishing, 224-238-3530; 2012. DVD $12.95; public performance $14.95. HOBBIES

Norman Mailer: The American. color & b/w. 85+ min. Joseph Mantegna, Eraser Films, dist. by Cinema Libre Studio, 2012. DVD UPC 881394115323. $19.95. LIT

The Story of Rock’N’Roll Comics. color. 84+ min. Ilko Davidov, Wild Eye, dist. by MVDVisual, 800-888-0486; 2012. DVD UPC 760137534891. $19.99. MUSIC/COMICS

Violin Masters: Two Gentlemen of Cremona. color. 60 min. John Forsen, Fidget TV/Cadenza Films, dist. by PBS, 800-531-4727; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781608837137. $24.99. SDH subtitles. MUSIC

Tamara Lackey’s Capturing Life Through (Better) Photography. color. 90 min. with book/quick reference guide. Rex Ballard, Lackey Ballard Prods., 2011. DVD ISBN 9780984445127. $27.99; book ISBN 9780984445172. $34.99; quick reference guide ISBN 9780984445158. $8.99; deluxe set $69.99. PHOTOG


Shakespeare High. color. 81 min. Alex Rotaru, dist. by Cinema Guild, 2012. DVD ISBN 9780781513982. $99.95; acad. libs. $295 (Rental: $95). Public performance. ED

The Sons of Tennessee Williams. color. 80+ min. Tim Wolff, dist. by First Run Features, 800-229-8575; www.firstrunfeatures. 2012. DVD UPC 720229914970. $24.95. GENDER STUDIES/SOC SCI

From the Other Side. 2 discs. color. 99+ min. Chantal Akerman, dist. by Icarus Films, 718-488-8642; 2012. DVD ISBN 9786314632120. $34.98; public performance $398. SOC SCI/INT AFFAIRS


Force of Nature: The David Suzuki Movie. color. 93+ min. Sturla Gunnarsson, Telefilm Canada & Rogers Group, dist. by Entertainment One, 2012. DVD ISBN 9781417235582. $24.98. SDH subtitles. ENVIRONMENT

Inside Nature’s Giants: Sperm Whale. color. 60 min. Tom Mustill, Windfall Films, dist. by PBS, 800-531-4727; 2012. DVD ISBN 9781608836499. $19.99. SDH subtitles. NAT HIST

Bette-Lee Fox About Bette-Lee Fox

Bette-Lee Fox ( is Managing Editor, Library Journal.

Now in her 46th year with Library Journal, Bette-Lee also edits LJ's Video Reviews column, six times a year Romance column, and e-original Romance reviews, which post weekly as LJ Xpress Reviews. She received the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Vivian Stephens Industry Award in 2013 for having "contributed to the genre or to RWA in a significant and/or continuing manner"